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And come the summer, we flock to the coast regardless of the gridlocked motorways, the sibling bickerings in the back of the car, the intolerable queues in the service station for the toilet…but still we happily go and it doesn’t matter how old you are, you still want to the first person to see the sea!
Much of the coastline around South West England is owned by the National Trust, which currently owns an impressive 775 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, having begun with just 201 miles back in 1965. And in that year, the organisation established The Neptune Coastline Campaign which this year, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
According to the Director-General of the National Trust, Fiona Reynolds, “our fragile coastline is under ever-increasing threat from erosion and sea level rise. Today more than ever we need to be able to work together and meet the growing public need for access to and enjoyment of our coastline.”
Thus the Neptune Coastline Campaign was born to help preserve the areas that we most like to visit. To put it into context, every mile of coastal footpath costs £3,000 each year, more when extreme weather and climate change mean extra care is needed.
Regarding Wales and the South West, the National Trust published research a decade ago about the long-term future of the coastline and the impact of climate change (sea level rise, coastal flooding and increased erosion). The South West has 279 kilometres of National Trust coastline at risk of erosion and tidal flooding. The Welsh coastline has played an important role with Whiteford Burrows near Llanmadoc on the Gower Peninsula the first place to be saved by the Neptune Coastline Campaign.
And the South West is responding with a year-round Coastal Festival, with events and festivities happening all around the region. In Dorset alone there is regular Hawaii Fish-O paddleboarding at Studland Bay or on Brownsea Island choose from a staging of the Tempest , a heathland walk, Apple Day or the relaxed dinner cruises.
Check out the full itinerary for the Coastal Festival and see for yourself what is being organised in the South West. We here at AC Services (Southern) will be attending some of the events, and no doubt will be called upon by catering establishments around the region to service a Rational oven or two, and we are delighted to be doing our bit for the Campaign Neptune.
“We are seeing the impact of climate change on a daily basis. There has always been change, but we are seeing more severe incidents. For example, last winter, we saw five metres of the fore dunes along three kilometres of beach swept away in one night,” comments Jonathan Fairhurst, National Trust North Devon Area Warden.
Since 1965, over £20 million has been spent on the South West on preserving the coastline, and although funding is important, each year around 800 volunteers specifically help with coastal work in the South West.
There’s always a way to help deliver the National Trust’s vision for a “healthy, beautiful coastline rich in wildlife and culture which people can enjoy and which benefits local communities and the coastal economy.” Have a look and see for yourself how you can contribute as well as enjoy the rewards of Campaign Neptune.
But the South West has a whole feast of other delicacies which may not be as well known and if you run a restaurant or catering firm, then you can find a surprising selection of some of the best from the west.
South West Cheese
Let’s look first at South West cheese. As a nation, we love our cheeses. We may experiment with the bries and camemberts of the continent but try serving a Ploughman’s without a tasty wedge of cheddar and you will face justifiable complaints.
Luckily the South West offers a massive variety of cheeses so if you are thinking of spicing up your cheeseboard, have a look at the following.
The Wallace and Gromit series made Stinking Bishop (a full fat pasteurised cows’ milk soft cheese made with vegetarian rennet) a household name for reviving Wallace from the Were-Rabbit. Washed in perry, the name originates from the Cistercian order of monks and today is matured in humid cave-like conditions.
If you prefer to serve a more traditional cheese, then take a chance on the A J Barber 1833 vintage reserve cheddar, where only a few vats a month are chosen to be matured for 24 months.
Woefuldane Organic Dairy takes the cheese from milk to shelf and produces cheese from a 110 acre organic farm from a mixture of Dairy Shorthorns and Jersey stock. These cows actually live in their own family groups . . . for example, the Speckys and the Hoggins. These delightful families produce traditional Double Gloucester, Birdwood Forester, Birdwood Dunlop, and Birdwood Blue Heaven, a semi-soft, mould ripened blue cheese.
One of the most well-known cheddars comes from Greens of Glastonbury. The company has an impressive heritage, having been making cheese for four generations and Green’s handmade unpasteurised West country cheddar is supported by a range of cheddars from the mild to the vintage aged for 15 – 18 months. Add to the choice organic, unpasteurised cheddar, Double Gloucester and a hard goats cheese and there is choice for everyone’s palette.
Another noteworthy cheese is Curworthy Cheese, a unique full-fat semi-hard cheese made on an historic farm in Devon. The cheese is produced from a herd of Friesian cows and the result is “a cheese that is creamy with a light buttery taste when young and a full flavoured mellowness when aged”.
Exotic At Home
Spices are always a popular choice, but not many people realise that the South West has its own suppliers of spices. Chimans of Exeter produce dry spice blends which are not only free from all flavourings, preservatives and colourings, they are also gluten free. For restaurants who specialise in vegan or vegetarian option, Chimans is the obvious choice.
And if it’s chillies you are after, take a look at the Dartmoor Chilli Farm in Ashburton, a self proclaimed green company which creates its own energy with solar panels and wind turbine to grow superb spices.
The company claims to “farm naturally and holistically without the use of herbicides or pesticides and use nature and hard work to minimise the damage caused by pests such as biological control, regular hand removal of slugs and snails, companion planting and encourage natural wildlife habitats for greater biodiversity.”
Explore South West Food
So if you want to serve succulent and different South West cheese and some more exotic products on your menus, simply look around the region. You may be surprised at what you find.
And a long, hot summer means plenty of events, particularly in the South West where there is a veritable feast of events planned for the summer. Some of these will feature AC Services Southern’s clients.
One of the biggest is taking place this weekend at Tiverton in Devon, where the annual Tiverton Balloon and Music Festival 2015 will be staged from Friday 10th July to Sunday 12th July 2015.
Billed as “an exciting ballooning, music and aerial extravaganza” the event will feature more than 40 balloons will be taking to the skies. There is evening entertainment galore, from the hot air balloon ‘Night Glow’ fire and light show accompanied by music and fire jugglers and a lantern procession on Friday to balloon tethering and spectacular displays plus competitions over the weekend days.
Tiverton Balloon Festival is also playing host to over 50 musicians performing live including The Skints, Mad Dog Mcrea and The Simmertones who will be performing on Sunday night.
Food Glorious Food
Of course, you cannot attend a festival without sussing out some of the eating facilities available and the Devon Food Festival at the Tiverton festival is offering a smorgasbord of choice in the food and drink pavilion including hog roasts and cider, international cuisine as well as vegan food and juice bars.
For a rough guide, I personally would begin at the Tricky Cider Company followed by Bootleg Liquor, with a quick trip to the Posh Kebab Company via a brief sojourn at the Ceylon Curry House, culminating in a visit to the Beanbug Coffee Trike serving premium quality, delicious organic and fair-trade espresso beverages.
This is just one of many local events, which aims to raise money to be distributed to local charities, clubs and organisations that AC Services Southern is happy to promote. To date (since 2011) Tiverton has raised over £34,000 for the local Devon community, making it a thoroughly worthy and enjoyable three-day event.
That’s not all that’s happing in the South West over the summer. July and August will play host to the following events:
• July 11-12 2015 All Things Morris, Ilfracombe
• July 19, 2015 Clovelly Maritime Festival, Clovelly
• July 25-Aug 2, 2015 Torbay Carnival Week, Torbay
• July 25, 2015 Mid-Devon Show, Posthill
• July 27- Aug 1 2015 Teignmouth Carnival Week, Teignmouth
• July 31- Aug 2, 2015 Torbay Steam Fair, Brixham
• August 1, 2015 Shaldon Water Carnival, Shaldon
• August 8-15, 2015 Dawlish Carnival Week, Dawlish
• August 9, 2015 Hennock Country Fair, West Hele
• August 18-19, 2015 British Firework Championships, Plymouth
• August 17-18, 2015 Exeter Craft Festival, Exeter
• August 27, 2015 Ilfracombe Carnival, Ilfracombe.
And if you are not exhausted and/or satiated by the end of the summer, don’t forget the annual tar barrel rolling at Ottery St Mary. As a past attendee of this event, I can confirm that it is truly terrifying, but the food is out of this world! To Devon organisers and AC Services clients alike, we wish you a successful event.
A picturesque hotel in the heart of rural Hereford, the Three Counties Hotel is a family run venture, offering everything for the discerning visitor, from accommodation to food to a stunning event venue.
The hotel stands in landscaped gardens with over three acres for the guests to relax and unwind, and the location lends itself perfectly for weddings, which is a hotel speciality. The venue has banqueting and conferencing facilities for up to 450 guests, with 60 bedrooms, with means plenty of room for the happy couple and all their guests!
To cope with the demand which has led to the hotel being nominated as Best Venue in the Herefordshire Wedding Supplier Awards, the hotel uses Rational ovens. There are two in constant use in the hotel, both running on gas, and according to sales and admin manager, Michelle Standell, they are huge contributors to the successful events that go on all year round.
“We have an excellent reputation not only for the venue but for the catering which is often on a very large scale, so it is essential that the ovens are constantly and consistently in full working order,” she comments.
“We use AC Services Southern expert engineers to regularly service the appliances on a standard 12-month labour contract. It’s for total peace of mind because should the ovens fail for any reason, as ovens tend to do, we know that we are covered by AC Services at all times.”
The Three Counties Hotel offers an extensive menu, with trademark dishes involving local Herefordshire Beef, and traditional and international menus offered in the form of finger buffets up to sit-down four-course meals.
“We have the normal problems associated with cooking appliances, not heating up or steaming etc. But as soon as we realise there is a problem, we call out the experts and it gets fixed every time.
We’ve been operating this way for over a decade and it perfectly suits the way we run the hotel.”
If you want a venue for your birthday party, dinner dance to christening or wedding, or any other occasion to celebrate, then check out the facilities at the Three Counties Hotel and be assured that the food and catering will always be of the highest standards thanks to the support from AC Services (Southern).
There is nothing quite as quintessentially British as the farmers’ market, found in cities, towns and villages the length and breadth of the country. The smell of the food, the allure of different produce and goods – all factors lead visitors to flock in their thousands to stalls set out on the streets.
Farmers’ markets vary in size and are different from public markets which in general have a permanent location.
A farmers’ market can be either indoors or outdoors and they have existed for centuries, waning in popularity with the advent of the supermarket and hypermarket where pre-packaged food became the norm. Today, with the emphasis on organic and holistic, farmers’ markets are enjoying renewed popularity.
Traditionally, the farmers’ market enabled farmers to sell agricultural and home-made products, usually allowing the seller to get rid of surplus produce. Now, it’s a booming business that sticks to the traditional but offers so much more to the visitor.
To Farmers’ Market to Market…
According to a report from the Friends of the Earth farmers’ markets are still springing up all over the UK and are good for everyone. The farmers have greater control over their economic lives, they get higher prices, diversify their skills and benefit from the networking opportunities with other farmers and clients.
The economy benefits with more money in circulation and more outlets for local businesses. And customers get an increased choice of fresh, healthy produce at competitive prices. Add to this less fuel miles and less packaging and farmers’ markets are win-win all round!
However, you can’t just go to market and sell your food: the National Association of Farmers Markets in the UK exists to lay down rules such as bought-in food cannot be sold, and that food should be from local producers.
So where are some of the best farmers’ markets? If you are out and about in the Bristol area, check out the UWE Farmers’ Market run on Tuesdays monthly at the Frenchay Campus, where local produce is in abundance, including poultry, meat and game, pies and pasties and a massive selection of South West cheeses. There’s also a stall selling sustainably caught fish and shellfish from Cornwall.
And one of the most famous farmers’ market in Wales is taking place from July 20th-July 23rd 2015 at The Royal Welsh Agricultural Show. “The object is to offer high quality food and drink of truly Welsh origin giving visitors a genuine and unique true taste of Wales experience. As a Farmers’ Market collective the focus is on small artisan Welsh food and drink producers who source their ingredients, either from their own farms or known local suppliers.”
As always, AC Services (Southern) is delighted to support its local farmers’ markets in the South West and Wales and urges any caterers who cook food for the public to check their equipment carefully and frequently.
If you are at a loose end this weekend and are close to Bristol, then head down to the city where the Big Green Week Festival is reaching its climax.
In recent years, Bristol has hosted numerous events, including the Wallace and Gromit exhibition and the Big Slide, but this June sees a mixture of events taking place all over the city.
The Big Green Week festival began Saturday 6th and concludes on Sunday 21st June 2015. Every year, this annual event has a theme and this time, the 120 free events and festivities are based round inspiring love for the future. #LoveTheFuture!
Bristol Wins European Green Capital 2015
Bristol has been the centre of attention since being crowned European Green Capital for 2015! Leaving Brussels, Glasgow and Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia … for Trivial Pursuit superiority!) in its wake, the city of Bristol was assessed against 12 criteria to become triumphant. These criteria included innovation and sustainable employment, energy performance, water treatment and climate change.
And to mark the occasion, and also to prove that sustainability and greenness do not have to be boring, the various organisers of the Big Green Week have organised a lot of events all based on the green theme, including a mouth watering foodie fest!
First of all, the must-visit event was the Great Green Wine Stomp, where SNOB wines are a-flowing. That’s SNOB as in Sustainable, Natural, Organic, Biodynamic beverages, not SNOB as in those who think that if it hasn’t got a cork then it cannot be any good.
According to the website, “This is Bristol’s first wine tasting event to focus exclusively on wines that have minimal environmental impact.”
Now for those who love seafood, bookmark 19th June and head down to see Silla Bjerrum, founder and executive chef of London’s Feng Sushi chain. A six-course fish feast awaits you, with Silla showcasing an array of planet-friendly British fish served with a Japanese twist.
And my personal favourite simply because it makes so much sense is The Supper Sense Blind Banquet, held on the 18th June. Visually impaired Andy Shipley is hosting a special dinner where all guests are blindfolded: you’ll never get a better opportunity to use our taste buds instead of your eyes to appreciate food!
Add to the mix plenty of music events, lectures, documentaries and comedy shows and the Big Green Week at Bristol has something for everyone, old and young over its fortnight; so time just to enjoy one of the many events that the region covered by AC Services has to offer!
To save you racking your brains and recalling your bygone history lessons, 1215 was the date of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John at Runnymede.
In fact, it was probably the only thing that King John was really famous for apart from appearing as the bad guy in numerous movies inevitably featuring his noble older brother or a tightly-clad outlaw.
This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta (or The Great Charter), which is actually one of the most famous documents in the world. And not that we need an excuse, but the great British public will be out in force over the next few weeks in celebration. Which means the caterers will be out so if that’s you, make sure you have given yourself plenty of time to prepare your equipment.
King John of England issued the Magna Carta document as a practical solution to the political crisis he was facing at the time, and basically it stated that everyone, including the King himself, was subject to the law. Apparently at the time he was being hounded by rebel barons so he needed something to cover his back.
Backbone of the Constitution
Over the years, the charter has been rewritten, revised and repealed but one clause in particular, the 39th clause, stands as the cornerstone not only to the British constitution it became the backbone for the United States Bill of Rights (1791), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the European Convention on Human Rights (1950).
The clause states that all free men have the right to justice and a fair trial: in full, “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
This historic document was signed at Runnymede near Windsor on the 15th June 1215, 800 years ago. No-one knows how many copies were made, but four survive: in Lincoln Cathedral; in Salisbury Cathedral; and two at the British Library.
Although at the time, the document made very little difference to the country, simply serving to save King John’s bacon with the barons until they rebelled even more three months later. During this second revolt, John died and was buried in a magnificent tomb in Worcester Cathedral. The Magna Carta was reissued in November 1216 in the name of the nine-year old new king, Henry III.
In 2015, we are planning to celebrate, with Magna Carta anniversary festivities taking place throughout the land. A two-day river relay and pageant is taking place in the original location on the River Thames, over the weekend of 13 and 14 June 2015.
Further afield, both Cilgerran and Chepstow Castles will host re-enactments weekends with a full weekend of Magna Carta-themed events over 13th and 14th June at both sites. The celebrations will finish in September with a two-day flower festival at Cilgerran Castle.
So if you want to celebrate some true history, take yourself off to one of the places around the country that are holding events. And if you are in the catering market, then put your Rational oven to good use and hold a Magna Carta feast. A few wild hunting boar and a dozen flagons of ale should go down a treat!
If you have a car, you get it serviced. If you have a house, you take out insurance. Let’s face it if you have teeth, you at least have an annual check up! Because if anything happens, then you are without transport and shelter (or teeth) and inevitably, you incur unnecessary costs and delays. So if your Rational oven is your livelihood, then it makes sense to insure yourself by getting it regularly serviced.
Regularly servicing can be different for every oven, depending on lead times, size, model, output and usage and perhaps more importantly, budget. AC Services (Southern) believes strongly in maintenance contracts. Each purchase of an oven from Rational comes automatically with a one year warranty and you can register for a second year free. And when that is up, then there are plenty of options. In fact, because we have such a range of clients, from small caterers to international restaurant chains we have put in place three options.
Rational Oven Maintenance Plans
Gold Maintenance Plan
• Designed for Rational ovens under 10 years old
• A more comprehensive and increased level of parts and labour cover
• 24 hour response time
• Breakdown calls attended 7 days per week
• Replace most parts that fail under the maintenance period up to the value of £1,000 per visit (genuine and original Rational parts used and some exclusions do apply)
• Two preventative maintenance visits per year at six monthly intervals.
Silver Maintenance Contract
• Designed to cover labour costs for those customers, who have a limited budget,
• 24 hour response time
• Breakdown calls attended 7 days per week
• Two preventative maintenance visits per year at six monthly intervals
• First time fix policy
• Work to an agreed budget on spare parts when required
Platinum Maintenance Contract
• Available for our customers, who require an individual plan to meet their Rational oven servicing needs
• Individually tailored to meet the specific maintenance needs of rational oven owners
• 24 hours response time
• Breakdown calls attended, 7 days per week
• First time fix policy
• Genuine and original Rational parts used.
There simply is no substitute for regular maintenance, and this is coming from a company that has been servicing Rational ovens for decades! On too many occasions, we have heard the excuse that budget cannot be found for a maintenance contract, but the initial outlay easily beats the costs incurred when an oven fails suddenly: lost business, lost customers, lost revenue . . .
There’s a summer of sport and events coming up so if you are planning to cater for the public this year and want to continue to do so for years to come, find out more right now about how an ACS annual maintenance contract is the best option for maintaining your Rational oven; how it can save you money and increase profits.
Talk to one of the sales team on 01454 322222 or visit the AC Services (Southern) website for more information.
Tranquillity doesn’t come much better than a 16th century inn, nestled in the heart of the Cotswold countryside, with facilities that offer the guest and visitor far more than just a day or night away.
The Crown of Crucis is idyllically located beside scenic Ampney Brook, a mere five minutes’ drive from the historic town of Cirencester. And as it overlooks the cricket pitch, guests can actually hear the sound of willow on leather: a quintessentially English venue!
Owner, Hugh Calvert has built up an excellent reputation for his cuisine, with the Crown of Crucis offering everything from corporate events to romantic weddings, and his secret is his Rational ovens. Both of them. And guests keep flocking back, whether for a fireside pub meal or fine dining in the restaurant, or a catered conference in the Cotswold Suite, which can accommodate up to 140 delegates in a theatre-style layout.
As Hugh explains, the quality and reliability of the ovens are central to the success of the inn, as food is constantly served throughout the day, from sandwiches and fish in the bar in the daytime to succulent meals in the evening.
“Reliability is paramount,” he explains. “We have been using Rational ovens since 2008 and not only can we rely upon them but the cooking quality is exemplary, with exactly the food we require produced time after time to perfection.”
The ovens are serviced by AC Services (Southern) for whom Hugh has nothing but praise. “We use them on an ad hoc basis,” he continues. “We have complete peace of mind that if anything happens, then we are immediately on the phone to AC Services. Sometimes they talk us through any problems so that we can sort them out or they send an engineer. Either way, the problem is always solved. The diagnostic ability of this company is second to none: they know Rational ovens!”
The Crown of Crucis underwent a refurbishment three years ago, and business has boomed ever since. “The consistency of the standards of our cuisine is a major priority for us,” concludes Hugh. “The Rational ovens have allowed us to produce our best at all times.”
Any deviation from the regime could cause untold problems. AC Services (Southern) believes that keeping a regular eye on the equipment, reporting any fault, however small it may seem, and keeping in constant contact with the client is the secret to solving any problem before it becomes an issue.
AC Services (Southern) operates across the South of England, the Southwest, and South Wales. If you operate Rational Ovens in your business, why not give them a call? You can reach them on 01454 322 222.
The new Conservative government has made an appointment which seems to be going down well with the hospitality industry. Tracey Crouch is the new tourism minister, and one who supports a cut in the VAT rate to 5% for tourism and hospitality businesses.
The most recent figures show that 34.8 million international visitors came to the UK in 2013, an increase of 17% since 2010, spending a total of £21.7b (up 29% on 2010). And this is set to increase which is excellent news, as well as being a challenge to the hotel industry.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said she commended the appointment of Crouch: “With the recent Tourism Inquiry report serving as a great foundation, we look forward to working closely with …Tracey especially in leading the delivery of the Inquiry’s recommendations to reduce tourism VAT… The time has come for the hospitality industry to be empowered to help our economy reach its potential with more jobs, visitors and tourists across the UK.”
Hotel Industry reports on attracting visitors
So what do hotels have to do to attract more visitors? There are many schemes in place to increase technology throughout hotels, upgrade accommodation and service, but the bottom line is that if the food is not appealing, then repeat customers are lost!
Hoteliers should take heed of the latest consumer spending report issued by Barclaycard, which states that consumers are eating out more, as confidence in spending power grew 4.5% last month, a rise buoyed up by a record low level of inflation, and an improved sense of personal finances. In addition discretionary spend, such as eating out and going to the cinema, was up by 7.3% compared to April last year.
So confidence is returning and to harness this, a dining trends report which was released this week by Santa Maria Foodservice, may hold some answers for hoteliers. The report states that menus at all eateries should target the needs of all age groups.
According to the study, there are four categories: Millennials (aged 18-34), Generation X (aged 35-49), Baby Boomers (aged 50-64) and War Babies (65+). The report found that respondents across all age groups increasingly prefer bolder and spicier flavours. 60% of over 65s said the menu description was the most important factor to encourage them to try new dishes.
Eimear Owens, country sales manager UK & Ireland at Santa Maria Foodservice, said operators “By 2025, 23 per cent of the world’s population will be over 65,” she said. “Our report shows that one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to menu and concept development. Operators will have to be more flexible and, depending on their brand profile, will need to understand how to exploit the growth in ‘seniors’.”
Reports show that the hotel industry loses up to £16bn in revenue a year by failing to cater to the needs of the over-65’s. So hoteliers think about it: this genre has expendable cash: they have the time and desire to visit places and stay at hotels. So get your Rational ovens fired up and use the technology mixed with some imagination to provide meals that appeal to all.